Search and rescue teams from area police departments and the U.S. Coast Guard continued through Sunday evening looking for a missing kayaker, as computer models relayed a 17- to 27.9-hour window of survivability based on water temperatures, Fire Capt. Chris Zak said.
Two people were thrown into the water from their kayak early Sunday. One of the men, identified by U.S. Coast Guard officials as John Ferraro, was able to defy the odds and swim to land, but the other man, identified as Michael Krupa, 22, of Middletown, remained missing. Officials did not have an age or hometown for Ferraro.
Zak said that at 4:42 a.m. Sunday the department’s emergency operations center received a 911 cell phone call reporting a person in the water. Fire officials later learned that two people were in the kayak when it flipped over and were unable to get back into the boat.
Zak said both of the kayakers began to swim toward anchored boats, and one man was able to swim to Charles Island, where he found a boat and woke up the people who were on board. Fire officials did not release the identity of the kayakers.
When firefighters arrived, the man was suffering from hypothermia because of the prolonged time in the water, and he is currently at an area hospital in guarded condition.
The man did not have a flotation device on, Zak said. A Coast Guard helicopter and boat, along with Milford fire and police, Stratford and West Haven fire personnel, searched all day and into the evening for the second kayaker, Zak said.
Beachgoers who basked at Silver Sands State Park Sunday watched the rescue operation with interest.
Bob Gabris of Naugatuck sat on the shore Sunday afternoon, staring out across the water.
“We came down here to walk on the beach and relax, and we picked a bad day, because somebody lost their life,” he said.
Gabris hadn’t heard about the accident before coming to the beach, but immediately knew something was wrong when he saw the helicopter. “One or two people go down every year between here and Stratford,” he said. “Long Island Sound is very dangerous.”
Terry Ames of Waterbury stood out on the sandbar Sunday afternoon filming the scene. In the distance, emergency services boats surrounded Charles Island.
Ames said he comes to the beach several times a week to film nature. After seeing the news today, he knew he was in for a different scene.
“I couldn’t believe it when I turned the news on. I was here just yesterday,” he said. Ames said he was anxious to know who the missing boater was, as he knows a lot of people in the area.
“There’s too many drownings this year, all over the place. Too many,” he said
Zak said they were using sonar to try and locate the person. They found the kayak. Crews are searching between Silver Sands State Park and Walnut Beach.
A side scan sonar device was used by Milford Fire Department divers to try to ascertain if the individual was submerged. Fire department units also performed grid search patterns in Long Island Sound, and shore units were walking the beach areas.
Zak said it is somewhat remarkable that one of the kayakers was able to swim to Charles Island because it was very windy out and the currents are “very difficult” to navigate.
“He is very fortunate he did make it,” Zak said.
Zak also said once boaters position their vessel south of Charles Island, they are no longer protected by land, which allows the winds to pick up and make the waves treacherous.
Zak emphasized the importance of having a personal floatation device when using any type of water vessel, and the need to have a family member or friend know your destination and estimated return time.
A detailed plan outlining the departure location, destination, identity of people on the vessel and expected return time can assist rescue workers in locating those lost in an emergency, officials said.
By Brian McCready, Milford